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Government Declines Comment on Rights Report

Cambodian government officials declined to comment Wednesday on the US State Department's annual human rights report—in which Cambodia's human rights record "remained poor"—claiming they had not seen a copy yet.

"I cannot make any comment," Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the head of the government's human rights committee, told VOA.

"You get it much faster" than the government, which had not received a copy, he said.

The US embassy "never pays attention to the government" when it comes to issuing reports, Om Yentieng said.

The report, issued Tuesday, puts Cambodia in the same category as North Korea, China, Cuba and Afghanistan, pointing to extrajudicial killings by government agents and a lack of political will to enforce the rule of law.

Activists welcomed the report, saying human rights in the country still have a long way to go.

"This is due to a political problem," Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, told VOA. "The democratic system is still weak; the National Assembly is still weak."

In other countries, "if the executive branch commits an offense, the National Assembly asks the person to explain and he or she will be dismissed," he said. But in Cambodia, "the Assembly has no right to dismiss the person when he or she commits an offense."

Chan Soveth an investigator for the rights group Ad Hoc, said the US report was accurate and showed that in Cambodia human rights abuse is still an important issue.